ELKO – There may be a potential issue in the Eduardo Estrada-Puentes trial as it was broadcast online Wednesday afternoon, because of the proceedings being held in the Elko County Commission chambers.
Estrada-Puentes, 34, is being tried on an open murder charge in the 2011 death of his estranged wife Stephanie Gonzalez. He pleaded not guilty in district court in April.
District Attorney Tyler Ingram approached Elko District Judge Al Kacin as an officer of the court Thursday. He explained the video broadcast system automatically streamed the court proceedings from approximately 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday – the same time the county commission was scheduled to meet.
This discussion was done outside the presence of the jury and the alternates, said Kacin.
There is one hard copy of the video requested by Ingram, who said he has never seen the video and he did not believe anyone in his office has either. This was given to defense attorneys Sherburne Macfarlan and David Lockie.
“The State’s concern is any confidential communications between defense counsel and the defendant,” said Ingram.
Elko County Executive Assistant Michele Petty said there are not any other recordings and the footage is “not archived for public view,” said Ingram.
Kacin said it sounded like appropriate steps were taken to mitigate the situation, but said this is a greater issue with the County.
“Typically, for any sort of broadcast there would have to be a court order dealing with that. So, that bothers me,” he said. “I think this is a function of Elko County not providing appropriate court facilities for district judges to do their job.”
Both Ingram and Kacin stated court proceedings are open to the public.
Macfarlan said he does not believe there is anything to hinder the trial or cause a mistrial.
The video and audio will be reviewed by the defense, before the jury is set to deliberate on the trial.
“It’s my distinct hope that all we are going to get out of this is what Mr. Macfarlan said. There’s a recording of the proceeding that the public has access to anyway,” said Kacin. “We have a lot of members of the public here today, there’s a lot of community interest in this trial, which is why we’re holding it down here.”
The judge said his courtroom is not big enough, especially considering the style in which the jury had to be selected.
Commissioners held their regularly scheduled Wednesday meeting in Wells.
The second day of testimony in the Estrada-Puentes trial included statements by the former lead detective in the 2011 case and the doctor who conducted the autopsy.
Kevin Blue discussed the investigation of the case as he was the lead detective, until early 2014, when he left the police department.
Blue was originally asked to “ping” the OnStar system to find the location of Gonzalez’s missing vehicle. When that was not fruitful, he did the same thing for her cellphone.
Thursday’s testimony also discussed phone records obtained on both Estrada-Puentes and Gonzalez, where the number of a Nelson Nunez was discovered. Several text messages were exchanged, but Blue did not have access to them as it appeared all of Gonzalez’s texts had been erased.
There were also phone calls made by what appears to be the defendant around 6:13 until 6:15 in the morning on June 25, 2011.
In earlier testimony, Nunez agreed when Chief District Attorney Chad Thompson asked if Nunez and Gonzalez were in a “dating relationship of sorts.”
Dr. Piotr Kubiczek testified Gonzalez’s death is consistent with strangulation and the injuries have the appearance of blunt force trauma.
Check elkodaily.com for an in depth look at the testimony.